Beaufort launches ‘War on Kitchen Fires’ with Fire Prevention Week

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More than half the structural fires in Beaufort during the past 12 months have started in the kitchen, well above the national average and enough of a concern that the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department is launching a “war on kitchen fires” in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week Oct. 7-13.

In the past 12 months the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department has responded to 26 reported fires in buildings.  Of those, 14 originated in the kitchen, seven were caused be electrical shorts and two were caused by improperly discarded smoking materials, according to department records.

“Over 53 percent of all of our fires originate in the kitchen,” Beaufort Fire Chief Sammy Negron said. “The national average for kitchen fires is 44 percent.  Fires that start in a kitchen have been the number one reported cause of house fires since 1990. We want to help make kitchens and homes safer.”

October is Fire Safety Month and this week, Oct 7-13, is Fire Prevention Week.

“Our department is scheduled to conduct 16 fire prevention presentations this month,” said Capt. John Robinson, training and education officer for the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department. “Every presentation we do has an element of kitchen safety.  From kindergarteners to college students, every person we speak to about fire safety will hear us talk about preventing fires in the kitchen.

“We have reached more than 1,300 adults and 4,600 children since January of this year, but that’s not enough because the fires keep starting, homes keep burning and people’s lives are at risk,” Robinson said.

Here are the key messages about preventing home fires:

Pay Attention : Every fire that originated in a kitchen was preventable.  The leading cause of kitchen fires is unattended cooking.  The chef forgot the burner was on, became distracted, or turned on the wrong burner.

Have working smoke alarms: Smoke alarms do not prevent fire, but they provide the early warning necessary to save lives and limit property damage.  Have smoke alarms, test them regularly and replace the batteries at least annually.  Smoke alarms save lives!

Use extension cords properly: Nationally, half of all fires involve electrical wiring and appliances.   Most of them are caused by improper use.  That’s especially important with the holidays approaching. If you use electrical decorations for Halloween, use the proper type of extension cord.

Candles : Open flames start 35 fires every day in the United States.  If you must burn a candle, do it in a safe place, away from other combustibles, and in an approved container. Always be sure the candles are extinguished before leaving the house!

Smoking materials: Improperly extinguished smoking materials result in 17,500 structure fires and over 500 deaths every year in the United States.  Don’t become a statistic.  Use proper ash containers and extra care.

There are many more ways to prevent fire in your homes and business.  If you’re interested in speaking to a fire prevention specialist please contact the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department at 843-525-7055 or by e-mail at city-fire@cityofbeaufort.org.